New Delhi: A committee constituted by the Supreme Court to look into the violence in Manipur has advised the state government to publish a list of those who have died, and if no one comes to claim the bodies, to dispose of them in a “respectable manner.”
Indian Express has reported on the committee’s advice to the N. Biren Singh government to make efforts to identify the next of kin of the bodies that continue to remain unclaimed in the morgues of the state since ethnic violence began on May 3.
Last week, in a press conference, Manipur Police had said that 96 bodies remain in the morgues and have not been claimed. The official count of the number of people who died is 175. The claiming of bodies is subject to the ethnic politics of the sharply divided state, with communities unable to move through areas controlled by others.
Express cited the example of how until August 3, although 35 of the bodies in a Churachandpur morgue were of members of the Kuki-Zomi community who are dominant in the area, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) had directed families not to claim them so as to amp up pressure on the government to help transport bodies from the Imphal area, under Meitei control.
The committee, led by retired J&K high court Chief Justice Gita Mittal, and comprising two other woman judges, told the government to ensure that bodies which remain unclaimed after the publication of the list are disposed of respectfully in areas identified for the purpose by district collectors.
The Express report also said that an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court last week, Manipur Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi claimed that measures had been taken to upgrade the state’s victim’s compensation scheme. It is this affidavit that notes the advice given by the panel.